Going to Neverland
New Year at the Middle Land – Winter Spiti
Journey Details -
Dates of journey: 27th December 2019 (night) – 3rd January 2020
Route Taken: Delhi – Shimla – Narkanda – Spello – Nako – Tabo – Kaza (Key, Kibber, Chicham, Langza, Komic, Sagnam) – Kalpa – Shimla – Delhi
Total Distance Covered: 1720 kms (approx)
Manpower: Alpha(Alok), MindlessWanderer(Kashish Tandon), Manoj Gupta
Vehicle used: Isuzu DMax VCross 4WD owned by Manoj Gupta
After successive visits to Ladakh in 2012 and 2013 during the peak winter season, we were keen to travel to Spiti Valley in the white season. What Spiti offered was a completely different experience. While, we had to fly down to Leh to cover the Ladakh valley, Spiti allowed us somewhat to travel by road. We desired to test ourselves, our resolve, our vehicles and our driving abilities too.
Spiti in winters posed many challenges too.
Back in 2013-14, Spiti valley was not yet open to tourists in general. Roads were prone to close down for days due to heavy deposits of snow and landslides. Stay options were limited. The road trip required lots of planning and luck, unlike Ladakh where it was somewhat better logistically. Nevertheless, 6 of us with two capable vehicles started marching for mission Spiti during February 2014. However, incessant snowfall did not let us beyond Reckong Peo. Delightful Kinnaur
After the set back of 2014, we planned few more times but it could not materialize. Two more attempts were made without me but those attempts failed too. Again, in February 2019, another attempt was made but we were again thwarted by the snow slide at Tinku Nallah near Pooh. While returning back to Spello, we had a narrow escape when our rear wheel flew off into Sutlej River. Disappointed once again, we came back to Delhi. Winter Spiti: an unfinished business, yet again
Frustrated time and again by failed attempts to Spiti, we decided to visit Ladakh once again in winters to experience the high altitude cold. We intended to celebrate new years’ day at Hanle in Ladakh. We booked our return tickets in the month of October 2019.
We waited for the days to pass. Just few days before our schedule, we received a bad news. Airlines on which we were booked in, had cancelled the flights. Ticket prices for new flights were prohibitively high. We were in double mind whether to go ahead with Winter Ladakh or not. We started planning for alternate destinations.
We flirted with an idea of an ambitious Pangi Valley trip where we would enter the Valley via Kishtwar and crossed the Cliffhanger Road to reach Killar. Thereafter to visit Keylong and return back via the same route. It seemed overambitious, though someone actually did that exactly few days after we could have done it. Our focus was once again on completing the unfinished task – Winter Spiti.
Hectic plans were made. We had sufficient days at hand. We sounded out to other accomplices from the failed attempts. However, we three were the only ones available for this sojourn. We chose Manoj Bhai’s Isuzu DMax Vcross 4WD for this trip which was fully prepared for the difficult conditions.
We regularly checked the weather updates and fortunately, the sky seemed to be clear during our journey dates. Though it gave us some comfort but we were little disappointed too to miss out the amazing drive on the white carpet roads.
After Christmas, the Delhi winters were getting biting cold but the news of Minus 30 degree Celsius at Kaza on Christmas day gave us lots of chill. I had caught a bad cold during the very first day my previous Winter Spiti attempt. I desperately wanted to avoid the repeat.